Tiago Cukur’s first goal in professional football secures three points for Rovers in a 2-1 victory over MK Dons.
Tommy Rowe opened the scoring after just seven minutes and Rovers could have extended their lead when Rodrigo Vilca hit the upright six minutes later. After a fast start, the match evened out and MK Dons started to see more of the play.
Peter Kioso’s acrobatic effort on the 24th minute drew the game level. There were very few chances created by either team but it was Rovers who found the all important late goal.
Cukur touching Jordy Hiwula’s goal-bound effort on the line with what was his first touch of the match.
After a heavy defeat to Ipswich Town on Tuesday evening, manager Richie Wellens demanded a reaction and a performance from his players and he would have surely been the happiest man in the stadium when his side took the lead after just seven minutes.
John Bostock’s effort from distance was blocked but the midfielder followed in to send a head looping over the visitors’ static defence. Perfectly timed runs from Joe Dodoo, Jordy Hiwula and Rowe meant they were lining up at the back post to give Rovers the lead, but it was the latter who got the final decisive touch to put Rovers ahead.
This was hardly the first good chance Rovers had created – Ben Close had already hit the woodwork with a looping header with less than a minute on the clock and a free-kick just outside the area was headed narrowly wide.
Wellens’ other complaint from recent performances was that his side tended to allow the score line to affect how they play – but that was not the case and the men in red continued to be first to the ball and finding ways to win possession back high up the pitch.
Rovers could have doubled their lead on the twelfth minute when Rodrigo Vilca’s effort from the edge of the box hit the post.
After a fast start, MK Dons started to see more of the ball and with just twenty minutes on the clock the visitors drew things level.
A corner delivery hit deep to the back post was kept alive by Troy Parrott and Kioso reacted well in the six-yard box to volley beyond Pontus Dahlberg.
A few half-chances for the Dons followed – Dahlberg tipped Kioso’s low driven effort around the post before Scott Twine’s effort was caught by the Swedish keeper. And the shot-stopper was quick off the park to take the ball from Max Watters when the former Rovers’ Academy player used his pace to get away from Tom Anderson and Ro-Shaun Williams.
At the other end, Joe Dodoo was inches from turning in Rowe’s cross after some tenacious play and smart passing from Vilca meant Rovers were able to win the ball back and work space for the cross and just before half-time, good work from Ethan Galbraith saw him drive at the MK Dons defence and release Hiwula. The winger showed good footwork to get the ball onto his favoured left foot but his shot was straight at keeper Andrew Fisher.
The break sparked a change for Rovers with Aidan Barlow replacing Vilca.
It was an uneventful opening 15 minutes to the second half with neither side able to create anything of note.
Bostock’s attempts to thread passes through to first Hiwula and then Dodoo brought last-ditch interceptions which prevented one-on-ones while at the other end an attempt to play Watters through was thwarted by Dahlberg.
The Dons fashioned the first real opportunity midway through the half when Kioso bent his run beyond the Rovers defence, but Anderson got back to push him wide and Dahlberg was able to make the save at his near post.
The visitors had boasted the majority of possession, but Rovers went close to a goal with 15 minutes remaining – Close picked out Hiwula who quickly threaded the ball through to Dodoo his cross was met at the near post by Lewington who very nearly chested it beyond his own keeper.
More changes followed with Tiago Cukur replacing Dodoo on the 77th minute. That proved to be a shrewd move from the Rovers management team as on the 78th minute the Turkish youth international had the ball in the net.
Galbraith’s delightful ball found the run of Hiwula who sent an effort goalward, but Cukur was following to make sure.
Rovers were able to see out the remaining ten minutes plus stoppage time for consecutive home wins.